In a strong field, the Mediterranean diet has maintained its place as the optimal regimen for weight loss and brain function for three consecutive years. And now new research shows it may add years to your life.
In fact, a new paper published in the BMJ Gut Journal recently revealed that even after just one year of adherence, elderly participants dramatically reduced frailty, improved their cognition and boosted longevity.
Further analysis uncovered a domino effect that began with gut microbes. Consuming foods that contribute to healthy bacteria, in turn, precludes the production of inflammatory chemicals that speed up the aging process.
Prolonged inflammation exacerbates cognitive decline and increases our risk of developing metabolic diseases as well as many forms of cancer.
“Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the authors wrote in the report. “We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.”
The Mediterranean Diet’s incredible impact on our gut microbiome
Alongside diet, age poses the biggest threat to a healthy gut community.
The older we get the less diverse the community becomes. Ironically, the less diverse our gut bacteria is, the quicker we succumb to the aging process.
Inflamm-aging refers to the process by which harmful, age-related microbial changes surge our risk for cachexia, frailty, cancer, and metabolic as well as neurological diseases.
Researchers set out to determine if they could mitigate the rate of this undertaking with a study pool comprised of 612 elderly people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom between the ages of 65 and 79.
Three-hundred and three participants were placed on a regimen based on the Mediterranean diet for 12 months ( fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish, and little red meat, sugar, and saturated fats) while the remaining were told to make zero alterations to their diets.
After a year’s time, the decrease in microbe diversity was effectively slowed down in the experiment group compared to the control group. In addition, the former evidenced improvements to memory, the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, handgrip strength and even walking speed. These episodic outcomes remained consistent irrespective of weight, age, and nationality.
It should be noted that this latest addition is derived from a cohort study that began all the way back in 2012, called the European Project on Nutrition in Elderly People or NU-AGE.
Those who kept with the Mediterranean Diet expressed the aforementioned benefits alongside a litany of other somatic ones, including reduced blood pressure and reduced bone loss as a result of advanced aging.
From the report:
“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to increased abundance of specific taxa that were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. These associations were independent of host factors such as age and body mass index.”
Be sure to check out Ladder’s extensive breakdown of accessible and affordable ways of adhering to the Mediterranean diet.